Nov. 3, 2017
It was around midnight on Oct. 3, 2017, when Jenn Larnino of Heidelberg, a junior biology major and psychology minor from Saint Vincent College, was on her way back to school after some late-night milkshakes with friends at Eat ’n Park. Nothing was out of the ordinary until she was almost back to campus, when something in the middle of the road on Monastery Drive caught her eye.
“At first, I didn’t see anything,” Larnino said. “I made a U-turn in the middle of the road and turned back to see what it was.”
Larnino then realized that she was shining her headlights on a recent motorcycle accident involving Chuck Cook of Jeannette. Larnino pulled her car up further and blocked the roadway so that no cars could turn down the street, dialing 911 as she ran over to Cook, along with a friend who was traveling with her.
“When I first saw him, I was actually thinking out loud, ‘I need to call 911,’” Larnino said. “I had never made a 911 call before, but I know it is best to put your emotions aside for a minute and remain calm.”
After the 911 call, Larnino and her friend did their best to keep Cook calm as more staff and students from SVC came to the scene, using their cars to block the road and prevent people from driving near him. When Cook began to regain consciousness, Larnino and her friend stayed with Cook until the paramedics arrived.
“We knew it was best not to move him, or his head and neck,” said Larnino, who is preparing to attend medical school. “I was telling other SVC students not to touch him or his head.”
Thankfully, Cook regained consciousness and was able to tell the paramedics his name and also told them that he was on his way back from work. Cook suffered seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung, major lacerations to his head, and a broken leg before being taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where he received emergency surgery to remove his spleen and was put on a respirator.
“He and I were in the right place at the right time,” said Larnino. “A few seconds later, he could have been at the main intersection on Route 30, and the situation could have been terribly worse. My friends and I never go out that late at night for milkshakes. What are the odds that we went there, at the time we went, so that we would have noticed him when we were coming back? What if we would have left the restaurant ten minutes earlier? I would have driven past the scene before it even happened. If this accident were going to happen, it happened in the right place at the right time . . . When he left in the ambulance, he seemed like he was going to be okay, and I was just thinking of positive outcomes for him.”
Since the accident, Larnino has been receiving updates from Cook’s wife about his condition. At the time of writing, Cook had surgery to repair his broken leg and has been taken off the respirator.
“I’m just glad he’s okay,” said Larnino. “It is a slow, painful recovery, but he is fighting.”
This story was brought to attention by Marty Radocaj, office manager for Parkhurst Dining Services at Saint Vincent College. Cook’s sister-in-law, Denise Rosak, wished for Larnino to be recognized for her efforts, calling her a “guardian angel.”
“I believe this is an example of the Benedictine spirit working through our amazing students,” said Radocaj. “With so much turmoil in the world these days, I believe we all need to be reminded that there is still good in the world!”
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